Protect the world’s most trafficked mammal

Posted by Imogen Searra on 3 January 2019

The pangolin is a nocturnal, solitary and reptilian-looking mammal which is covered in a brown scaly armour. It is the world’s most trafficked mammal.

Of the eight pangolin species, four are found in Africa and four in Southeast Asia. The commercial pangolin trade was banned in 2016, yet poaching of these cute animals has increased at an alarming rate.


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📸: @noelle.alcorn Check out Nat Geo Wild’s story today to meet Honeybun, a cape pangolin, with one her caretakers, Noelle! Pangolins are one of the most trafficked mammals on the planet. They’re often hunted for bush meat, but there’s also a demand for their scales in Vietnam and China for use in traditional medicine. When Honeybun and her mother came to @restnamibia the mother was in really bad shape and had clearly been thrown around. They think she wrapped herself around Honeybun to protect her. Now, about two and a half years later, Honeybun is healthy and still with us! #endangered #pangolin #wildlife

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Pangolins can weigh between 4.5-14.5 kilogrammes and may grow to approximately 80 centimetres in length. They are extremely gentle in nature and feed only on insects. Pangolins are, however, fussy with their food and eat only 19 species of ants and termites. When threatened, a pangolin will roll itself up into a ball, using its scaly armour to protect itself.

Pangolins are found across South African savannahs, ranging from the Free State to KwaZulu-Natal and on into Sub-Saharan Africa. The four pangolins found in Africa are the black-bellied pangolin, white-bellied pangolin, giant ground pangolin and Temminck’s ground pangolin. In southeast Asia, India and China, pangolins are found in dry woodlands and tropical forests.

Pangolins give birth to one pangopup at a time. Depending on the species, pangolin gestation periods can last between 68-139 days. Their slow birth rate means that the species stands little chance of bouncing back from the ravaging effects of poaching, which persists at an alarming rate.


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DAY 31 Today is the final day of the calendar! It’s been a cool month with 31 different animal species (if only there were more days in a month amirite???). Our last animal will be the Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica), which is a critically endangered species that we honestly probably won’t ever see again in the wild in our lifetime, we were honestly incredibly lucky in seeing it, ALSO HAPPY NEW YEAR 🎉🎉 Also thank you to the bois that accompanied me on this trip @ruesby @philippe_gordon @lizard_wizard2 💕💕 . . #thailand #wildlife #jungle #rainforest #macro #macrophotography #wildlife #wildlifephotography #olympus #photography #nature #pangolin #criticallyendangered

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Pangolins are hunted and sold for many reasons. Their scales are used for leather products and their meat is part of the exotic food trade — pangolins are a delicacy in southern China, India and Vietnam. Other reasons pangolins are targeted is that they are sometimes used in traditional African and Chinese medicines, and so they’re slowly being hunted into extinction.


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Wow, it’s #GivingTuesday! Pangolin Conservation is excited to announce it’s building the WORLD’S FIRST dedicated Pangolin Conservation facility – in St Augustine, FL to increase its efforts to save pangolins from extinction. This #GivingTuesday help us reach our $10,000 goal and your funds will be matched by an anonymous donor, dollar for dollar. In addition, Facebook will match funds to non-profit organizations up to 7 Million for Giving Tuesday. That means that for every dollar you donate, it could be tripled in donations to Pangolin Conservation! Your donations today, will specifically go to Phase I – towards the purchase of a property in St Johns, FL to the be the future site for the future Pangolin Conservation’s educational, research, and conservation facility. This new facility will be able to engage with students worldwide through live video feeds into the classroom, host researchers from around the world, and most importantly, serve as a place to “backup” pangolins from extinction with an ambitious goal to protect pangolins from extinction. Just like you’d want to backup your hard drive when you’re afraid of losing important documents, Pangolin Conservation is backing up this species to prevent extinction. Pangolins are considered the world’s most poached mammal and are under the threat of extinction. This is primarily due to traditional medicine practitioners falsely believing their scales have healing properties, despite being made of keratin, the same material that your hair and fingernails are made of. Look closely at the unique scales and you’ll notice the interesting ridges. These are remnants of the highly modified and fused hairs forming the individual scale. These fascinatingly tough plates provide protection for the pangolin when it curls into a tight ball, ensuring they’re safe from most predators, except for humans. Be part of the future, be part of the change. DONATE today on our website at It is our goal to protect pangolins from extinction. #GivingTuesday #Pangolins #PangolinConservation #Pangolin #Conservation #Endangered #EndangeredSpecies #Threatened #ThreatenedSpecies #BeTheFuture #Prot

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There are a few reputable conservation organisations based in South Africa which are helping to protect the local pangolin population. If you are interested in getting involved or finding out more about pangolins and their desperate situation, you can visit these websites:

Veterans 4 Wildlife 

African Pangolin Working Group

Makalali Research

If you want to learn more about the precious pangolin, click here.


Picture: Twitter/ Emma Bolden


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